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What You Must Know Before Banking Over the Internet (part 1)

Part 1 of 2

With people’s use of the Internet, continually expanding, more banks and thrifts are using the Web to offer their products and services in their eyes to enhance communications with consumers.

The Internet has the potential for a safe, convenient way to obtain financial services and do your banking business, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, safe banking online requires you to make good choices and decisions.

In this article we will provide you with information and tips to give you a hand whether you are thinking about or already using online banking. We’ll look at how to:

– Make sure that an online bank is legitimate and that all of your money is insured

– Be assured your personal information remains private and secure

– Understand your rights as a consumer

– Show you where to go for more help if you need it

How to Make Sure an Online Bank is Legitimate

No matter if you are looking at a regular bank that is popular and you have seen offline, with traditional local offices, or an online bank that has no physical offices, it’s good sense to make sure that it is legitimate and that your deposits are insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).  Here are a few things to look at if considering using a bank over the Internet.

Read all of the key information about the particular bank posted on their web site

Nearly every bank web site has an “About Us” page or something that describes them. You might also find a brief history of the bank, its official name and the address of their headquarters.  There will also be information about its insurance coverage from the FDIC.

Protect yourself from fraudulent Web sites

Keep a look out for web sites that deliberately uses a name that is very similar to a real banking institution.  What these copycat web sites are trying to do is to trick you into clicking onto their web site and giving up your personal information, like your account number and password. Always make sure that you have typed the correct web address for your bank before entering any personal or secure information.  These copycat sites will go so far as making their site and login page look just like the real site.

Be sure your money is insured

Verify that the bank is in good standing with the FDIC.  Look for the FDIC logo on their site.  But just because they have the logo doesn’t necessarily mean they are in good standing and still insured.  You can check the FDIC’s online database of FDIC-insured institutions.  You can search for any institution you are interested in by going to Bank Find.

With the FDIC your money is insured up to $250,000 total in all of your accounts, at that particular bank.  If you are fortunate enough to have more than that, you should make sure not to have all of your money in one bank.

Protect Your Privacy

You, like most of us, might want to know how your personal information is used by the bank you choose to use and whether they share that information with their affiliates or other companies not related to the bank

Well, starting July 2001, all banks are required to give you a copy of their privacy policy once you open an account, not matter if you bank online or offline. You can usually see a copy of it on the bank’s web site. By reading over their privacy policy you can learn what information they collect and keep about you, and what information, if any, they share with other companies.


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